Because the testator, or the person who authors a will, is no longer around to voice his or her thoughts or explain his or her decisions regarding who is given what, situations may arise that lead you to question a will and its contents. You cannot, however, contest a will simply because you are displeased with the way assets are allocated, but there are a number of valid grounds you may be able to use to do so. For example, you may be able to dispute a will in the following circumstances.
The death of a loved one brings a number of legal and financial challenges, some that are expected and others that can take you by surprise.
Minnesota families sometimes set up trust funds to help their children or grandchildren with their financial needs after they're gone. These can be a great way to keep a sense of family legacy together through generations. However, the work involved doesn't end once all the documents are signed and dated. The trustee must perform its duty to the trust principal and the beneficiaries must not interfere with each others' rights to the fund. When something goes wrong, it can lead to lawsuits over misuse of funds.
The author J.R.R. Tolkien was famous for writing "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings," epic fantasy stories about a major battle over who has the rights to old treasures like a gold ring and a broken sword. But the success of Tolkien's novels and the movies based on them has created a treasure of its own. Powerful forces are now fighting over bits of his legacy like Frodo fighting Gollum over the fires of Mount Doom.
Minnesota music fans may have been following the battle surrounding singer James Brown's estate. A recent court ruling means that the saga is far from over.
Twin Cities hip-hop fans undoubtedly know the Beastie Boys not only for more than 25 years of contribution to American music, but also for the band's historically rebellious stance against commercialization of its intellectual property. Fans mourned the loss of bassist, songwriter and civil rights activist Adam "MCA" Yauch to cancer in May of this year, but the iconic hip-hopper set up one last act of rebellion to be executed from beyond the grave. Unfortunately, the artist's efforts to stand on principle may result in unexpected financial costs to his family and heirs.
Collectors in the Twin Cities may take interest in a family dispute over the estate of a Midwestern man who founded a collectibles business with an estimated value approaching $3 million. The will contest centers on claims by the owner's sons that his wife may have been moved by undue influence to change her will during an emotionally vulnerable time.
Art lovers in Minneapolis and St. Paul may be familiar with the nearly ubiquitous works of Thomas Kinkade. His paintings have been widely reproduced and have found their way into the homes of fans nationwide through a franchise of licensed galleries.
Twin Cities bargain hunters are probably familiar with estate sales as an opportunity for good finds, but a recent case that may amount to estate sale fraud might make beneficiaries think twice before hiring someone else to act on behalf of the estate. Because estate sale companies are not subject to any special regulations, they are not liable for the types of fiduciary claims that might apply to a trustee, such as self-dealing or breach of fiduciary duty.
Bill Graham may be familiar to Twin Cities residents as the concert promoter that helped bring bands like Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, and the Rolling Stones to prominence in the 1960s and early 1970s. In a case filed in probate court nine years after his death, the promoter's legacy now stands in the shadow of probate litigation over the value of his heirs' inheritance.